When writing blog posts, it’s vital to remember to use visuals to help tell the story. Blog posts without images or videos will get less interaction than those with them. A common question is, how many pictures should I use in my blog post? And from there, people always want to know where to find great images. So, let’s talk blog posts and pictures.
A good baseline rule for a blog post is to use one photo for every 150-300 words; you can go up to 500 words, but breaking it up more is better for your reader. Doing this lets you break up large copy blocks and makes reading easier. However, you want to ensure the chosen images align with the post and help tell the story. Don’t just add pictures to hit a certain number of pictures. Use pictures to help tell the story.
If you’re writing a post that’s a how-to or guide, you may need significantly more images within the post. As with all marketing efforts, think about your audience. Try to anticipate the questions they’ll have as they read the blog post and if there’s an image that makes it easier to understand the concept, include it in the post.
If you’re doing an in-depth research piece, you may find it challenging to find images that help tell certain parts of the story. That’s ok. Don’t force pictures to fit somewhere they don’t make sense. There will naturally be parts of a post that lend themselves to images and pieces that don’t.
You can use videos, infographics, screenshots, GIFs, or pictures in your blog posts. You’re only limited by what you have access to (and the legal right to share) and what your blog can display. Try to break it up a bit. Include them if you’re explaining a process; screenshots help tell the story better. If you’ve got a video that aligns with the topic or illustrates a portion of the post, add it in the appropriate place.
The ideal option is to take your images using a DSLR camera or your phone so you have unique images for your blog. However, this isn’t possible all the time. I try to include some of my images and a mix of ones from other websites that are available for public use.
This is critical the photos need to be– available for public use. Never pull an image from a search engine’s image search – you don’t know for sure that you have the right to use that image, and you could get yourself in big trouble and potentially fined a lot of money. I heard from someone recently who made this mistake; she chose an image through Google’s image search and uploaded it to a client’s blog. The picture was marked as free for public use, so she thought she was safe. The photographer later sued her for nearly $6,000 for the use of the image. $6,000 for using one wrong photo. This does happen. Unfortunately, some photographers will not issue a warning or alert you about an issue; they’ll go straight to suit and charge a lot more money than you’d have paid to license the image initially.
There are some free sites with images you can use without worry. Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay offer many free options licensed for commercial use. The distinct advantage here is that all the images are free and have many options. The disadvantage is that the photos are free, meaning they’re everywhere. So, how do you use a free image and try to make it unique? Cropping an image, adding text, or applying a filter can help create a more custom look with a free stock image.
There are some excellent image subscription services available for bloggers and marketers alike. A good one is iStock Photo. They have an option that’s $99 per month for ten images. This can be an excellent plan for a small business owner who needs something different than the free services offered. iStock is part of Getty Images and has thousands of images to choose from at varying price points. You can buy one picture at a time rather than signing up for a monthly download pack.
There are some specialized image galleries available for specific niche blogging markets too. Do some research in your niche and see what’s out there. I’ve seen some beautiful image sites for female bloggers in particular. They don’t match my branding, so I don’t use them. However, I’ve seen them in use on several blogs and websites, and they are beautiful.
I personally use a mix of Social Curator images, screenshots, and photos I take. I seldom use the free photo services today, but I did a lot in the beginning. I had more options as my business grew because I could afford a subscription service.
Your blog post needs images. If you have something you took yourself or a screenshot or video that helps explain the blog post, definitely include them. If you need to use a stock image, make sure it’s one that you know is free for commercial use. Don’t ever pull an image from a search engine image search and use it, even if it’s marked “free for commercial use.” The mark within the search engine isn’t legally valid. Use a trusted website and customize the images through cropping, text overlay, or filters. Finally, consider a subscription-based image service for your images. Yes, they’re still stock images, but you’ll see fewer in use.